What portions of the eastern U.S. can expect severe weather this weekend? Courtney Spamer•Rounds of severe thunderstorms will continue to target the Sunshine State to end the weekend. This threat comes after damaging thunderstorms already ravaged portions of the South in recent days.On Friday, severe thunderstorms tore through portions of the southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley, and damaging winds and hail hammered the regions into early Saturday morning.In addition to a combined total of more than 120 damaging wind and hail reports, there were at least three preliminary tornado reports by the Storm Prediction Center on Friday evening. A tornado spun up in Bennington, Oklahoma, and in Ivanhoe, Texas. A „weak and brief” landspout was also spotted over an open field just east of Malta Bend, Missouri.The relentless rounds of severe weather then shifted eastward, igniting across the southern Appalachians and the Carolina Piedmont Saturday night.
As the evening progressed, numerous supercell thunderstorms targeted the Charlotte, North Carolina metropolitan area, prompting numerous tornado warnings.
|Supercell thunderstorms tracked right over downtown Charlotte, North Carolina Saturday evening. (AccuWeather)|
Luckily, no tornadoes touched down in the Charlotte area, but storms were able to produce hail, damaging wind gusts and localized flash flooding.
Into the day on Sunday, conditions will be much quieter across the Carolinas, however, feisty thunderstorm activity will not completely clear out of the Southeast.
Along a slow-moving frontal boundary, drenching thunderstorms are expected to target South Florida on Sunday.
Parts of the Florida Panhandle were targeted by damaging winds, waterspouts and a few tornadoes earlier in the week.
„Training thunderstorms are expected to hit some areas several times through the weekend, which can lead to flooding issues for those communities,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.
Some localized reports of gustier winds may also accompany the downpours and frequent lightning.
Conditions have been rather dry across Florida this year, so whatever rain falls, it will be beneficial.
According to this weeks update from the US Drought Monitor, over 97 percent of the state of Florida was abnormally dry or in a drought. Around 65 percent of the state was reportedly in a moderate or severe drought.
Drought conditions at this time of the year make for a higher fire risk, and could increase the number of wildfires ahead of the wetter summer months.
While the storms will not totally eliminate the drought across central and South Florida, it may help lessen the effects.
Storms will gradually pull out of the area Sunday night and Monday, allowing soaked parts of Florida to dry out. Mainly dry conditions are likely to hold through the middle of the week.
Although it will likely be dry in Florida early week, another round of severe weather is expected in the center of the country.
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The states at greatest risk of storms Friday include most of Arkansas, along with northern Louisiana and eastern portions of Texas and Oklahoma.
„All hazards are possible with these storms: damaging winds, large hail, heavy rain and a few tornadoes,” the National Weather Service said. Cities such as Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, are in the area at greatest risk for severe storms Friday.
Meanwhile, a cold front slowly pushing south into central Florida will produce some strong to severe storms with mainly a damaging wind threat on Friday.
Heavy, gusty and locally severe thunderstorms may persist through Friday night across middle and eastern portions of Kentucky and Tennessee, AccuWeather said.
By Saturday, the main threat area shifts to the east: „Isolated strong to severe storms appear possible Saturday across parts of the Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic, as well as portions of the Florida peninsula,” the Storm Prediction Center said.
It’s already been a rough week for severe weather across the South: There were 31 reports of tornadoes in the South from late Wednesday into early Thursday morning, the Weather Channel said.
Most of those were in southern Oklahoma, southeast Texas and central Louisiana. Deadly tornadoes struck the towns of Madill, Oklahoma, and Onalaska, Texas. At least five people were killed by tornadoes this week and two others died in floods.
Looking ahead to next week, another large outbreak of severe weather could unfold in the southern, eastern and Midwestern states, AccuWeather said.
„At this early stage, it looks like the greatest threat of severe weather during the middle of next week will extend from the middle Mississippi Valley to the Tennessee Valley,” AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.Contributing: The Associated PressThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Severe weather: More tornadoes, hail, high winds for the South Friday
Radar indicated a possible tornado over part of northeast Charlotte late Saturday — from the Derita area toward Concord and Harrisburg in Cabarrus County — along with quarter-size hail, according to the National Weather Service.
A tornado warning was issued for that area until 10:30 p.m. A tornado warning means radar indicated a tornado had been spotted.
A second warning was soon extended to Matthews and Mint Hill until 10:45 p.m.
At 9:15 p.m., the NWS office in Greer, S.C., issued a tornado warning for Gastonia, Belmont and Mount Holly in Gaston County and Kings Mountain in Cleveland County, effective until 9:45 p.m.
The warnings were among nearly 30 issued over three hours, primarily for parts of Upstate South Carolina.
Numerous severe thunderstorm warnings also were issued.
On Friday, NWS meteorologists warned of the possible intense storms.
“A few of these storms will have the potential to produce locally severe weather, primarily in the form of damaging wind gusts and large hail,” according to an NWS alert Friday afternoon. “However, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.”
The storms were striking an area that has seen numerous destructive tornadoes over the decades.
In May 1989, a tornado that hit eastern Cleveland County and western Lincoln County killed five people, prompting then-Gov. Jim Martin to fly to the rural area by helicopter to meet with emergency workers and survivors.
California heat wave draws large crowds to beaches despite stay-at-home order
„It’s crowded out,” said Brian O’Rourke, a lifeguard battalion chief in Newport Beach. „We haven’t had too many issues with [social distancing] as lifeguards. Our primary mission is watching the water. We’ve had dozens of ocean rescues and hundreds of preventative actions.”
An estimated 40,000 packed onto Newport Beach on Friday and similar crowds were expected Saturday, The Associated Press reported.
„We’ve had very good compliance,” O’Rourke said. „People are spreading out.”
In nearby Huntington Beach, where dozens of residents protested recently against California’s stay-at-home order, hundreds of people crammed onto the sand. Some wore masks but social distancing was less apparent.
North of Los Angeles, in Ventura County, families frolicked in the ocean. One visitor told „NBC Nightly News” that people „have to get out” rather than „living in a cave or hole.”
Beaches in Los Angeles County, the state’s largest, remained closed.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti implored residents to stay home despite the spring heat wave that drove temperatures in some areas to near 100 degrees midweek.
“There is a direct correlation between what you do this weekend and how long this will take and how many lives we will lose,” he said Friday. „If you stay home this weekend, our case numbers will drop, and we will stop the spread of this virus.”
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore thanked residents in a tweet for choosing to follow the county’s directive and keeping beaches clear.
The gradual uptick in infections has prompted Gov. Gavin Newson to maintain the stay-at-home order while governors in other parts of the country are starting to relax theirs.
Last weekend, Florida and South Carolina started reopening beaches for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak started on U.S. soil.